Wednesday 19 February 2014

Legacy Pharmaceuticals Trusts DataCore to Scale Out Its Virtual Infrastructure and Support its Critical ERP, Oracle and VMware Systems

“DataCore SANsymphony-V gave us more flexiblity and scalablity than a hardware SAN and it was able to meet our high availability and performance requirements perfectly. Not only did we gain a redundant SAN architecture, but we achieved a 40 percent savings in the initial investment in comparison to conventional hardware SAN solutions and now we can adjust our storage infrastructure to meet our requirements without having any storage vendor lock-in", Sascha Fritz, IT Expert at Legacy Pharmaceuticals Switzerland.

Legacy Pharmaceuticals have entrusted DataCore Software’s SANsymphony-V to implement and scale out their virtual infrastructure to support the introduction of their critical ERP system based on IFS and Oracle databases. The software-defined virtual infrastructure is based on DataCore for storage virtualisation and VMware for server virtualisation. 

Overall, the DataCore solution provided higher performance and higher availability compared to all other evaluated alternatives and the total cost, including what was required for a redundant SAN hardware and software design, was around 60 per cent lower than the price of alternative non-redundant single SAN systems.

As a leading company in the Swiss pharmaceutical industry, Legacy Pharma is committed to the highest quality and safety standards. These are mandated by the Swiss regulatory and supervisory authority and have specific compliance requirements and remedies which are regularly audited.

The compliance guidelines, required by the state as well as those established based on voluntary standards, must also fit within the practical bounds of economic feasibility in regards to the information technology that is implemented. The need for compliance, cost-effectiveness and innovative IT productivity are key competitive advantages to maintain leadership in the industry. For these reasons, Legacy Pharma decided to implement a new IT infrastructure and ERP validated system according to the latest GAMP 5 guidelines. "Good Automated Manufacturing Practice" (short: GAMP) is a standard framework for the validation of computerised systems within the pharmaceutical industry. However, for the ERP system with IFS, the older AS400 environment with NetApp storage but critically without full redundancy, were no longer suitable.

"Therefore our IT environment had to be upgraded. In cooperation with IT service provider Steffen Informatik, we decided to go with a virtual infrastructure and put our ERP system on virtual machines running on VMware," says Sascha Fritz.

At the same time, a new storage solution with appropriate availability and performance needed to be found. The SAN solutions offered by NetApp, EMC and HP that were evaluated did not allow a fully redundant environment within budget. Finally, the project virtualisation experts at Steffen Informatik presented DataCore’s SANsymphony-V storage virtualisation software that provided sophisticated enterprise storage features and using standard industry storage components.

SANsymphony-V virtualises storage resources regardless of manufacturer or model and provisions virtual disks to physical and virtual servers, and mirrors them synchronously to achieve high-availably between any two DataCore powered x86 based servers. The storage management for all resources in the infrastructure can be centralised, made flexible and automated. Furthermore, DataCore integrates seamlessly into the VMware server management systems.

The flexibility of DataCore allowed for the existing NetApp systems to be easily integrated, but instead they were replaced due to their high continuing maintenance costs.

The new DataCore and VMware based software-defined virtual infrastructure was preconfigured by Steffen Informatik and installed in parallel to the old solution. Then the subsequent migration of physical servers to virtual machines took place gradually. The new IFS ERP system with all the components for production, development and test systems, including the underlying Oracle databases and MS Exchange, MS SQL, domain server and print services were transferred to the virtual environment. In addition, the Citrix XenApp environment used for virtualisation of applications on thin clients was set up to run on the high-availability DataCore storage.

"The project was managed by our staff and by Steffen Informatik who were very competent and efficient. Importantly they were able to implement the GAMP 5-validation successfully. Compared to the previous solution, we now have a virtual infrastructure that combines VMware and DataCore as a highly flexible and thus more economical platform to meet our needs. DataCore SANsymphony-V enabled greater performance and higher availability at a cost point that other solutions could not equal or provide. We are very satisfied," says Sascha Fritz.

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